In my “inner research project” i am primarily interested in
“our true nature”. So, my favourite question is: “what is left
after all the illusory layers have been peeled away” (revealing
what is left, which should be true nature)…. and the question
arises from this is: “is metta truly naturally being revealed by
this peeling away?” i ask this question because if metta does not
arise naturally from our practice, but needs to be learned, then
are we saying about the character of true nature? Is metta simply
some clothes which folks wear socially? Can it be a pretense? Is
a social exercise?
So many folks talk about Love being the base of everything and being our true nature’s base characteristic, but my mind moves to rattlesnakes and dinosaurs.. and mosquitoes…. how is love basic to a carnivore, whose next consideration is “what’s for lunch?”, or for an animal with no arms and legs, but only teeth to protect itself….. where basking in the sun between their meals is their only “peace time”.
So i began looking into what happens inside my own experience. I have found that compassion grows in me, as the fixation on “I Me My” falls off (the DMN shutting off)…. so to me, this metta needs to grow naturally…. it really seems to be a litmus test of true growth.
So if loving-kindness only were a learned thing, then it is possible to have a pretense of loving-kindness, which a predator could use to trap its prey (teachers using this as a trapping mechanism, while their “small self” (ego) remained intact)
Another thing i noticed, is that this “natural compassion” which reveals itself is not necessarily some kind of mushy kindness, and can often express itself in a way which is not totally acceptable to other folks…. so it is at times not necessarily “socially acceptable”….. so perhaps that is where teaching about loving-kindness is valuable??
This to me brings us to a very important distinction between what arises from “true nature” and what needs to be learned due to our “social nature” requirements…….
In my mind, if true nature gets confused with social nature
aspects, the door is opened, to an environment where all sorts of
messy situations can take place.
So perhaps it could be said this way: “Metta must HAPPEN as a natural outgrowth of the “I ME MY” falling off, and also needs teaching, to make it be shown in a socially acceptable way in a human society.
i have spent so many years practicing on my own, i have needed to work through alot of things in a very DIY method. So sometimes what i see lines up with “teaching” and sometimes it does not. But i do prefer it that way, as it is not me standing on someone else s beliefs, but rather what i have found out for myself.
i made up my mind quite early, that i wanted to “find first-hand answers”. When i was growing up, i bumped into so many different persons from many belief systems, who all seemed to be so certain of what they believed, and it became apparent that a persons upbringing places them in a certain environment, and they tend to believe a certain way mostly due to this.
i was not at all satisfied with knowing this, and so, rather than looking in the books, and accepting beliefs others were believing in, i chose some form of “direct revelation”. Eventually, this led me to zazen or sitting meditation as a method to practice this.
But Sitting meditation assumes that we can find something “inside” or “within our realm of experience”……. And this assumes that either what we are looking for, is in some way “a part of us”, or that there is some way of being “reborn” into that spiritual realm….. So, really, either we are “hooked into” what we are looking for, or we are not.
If we are not hooked into the system…. i mean what most folks call “spiritual”, then none of this matters, as we are just “rising from dirt and returning to dirt”….. and most of us are not very comfortable thinking that, because it is quite nihilistic…… but it would be the logical answer arising from simply being animals…. higher primates….. we are born, we live and we die… end of story…..
The next question was, “Is the sense which humans have, that we have an existence which extends beyond the physical existence of one lifetime true, or is it an illusion?”
For myself, this is where the path begins (or not) for each one of us….. if we have a strong sense that “there is more to this “life” than meets the eye”, we either chose to ignore it, or to find some method of digging into it. As most all folks are born into homes which already have some sort of belief system, they usually end up taking up this “hand me down” religious method……
Then there are those of us that are not satisfied with hand me downs. What happens to most of us “Questioners” is that when we begin to ask questions which the folks who are teaching us are not able to answer, as they never asked those questions themselves…… so we go off looking elsewhere for satisfying answers for “why am I here, and what is my nature”.
In my mind, there are two potential answers we find: Either we arise from that “spiritual nature” or buddha-nature, and we have lost our way due to the illusions created by the dualistic universe we find ourselves in, or we are NOT rising from the source of everything (buddha-nature or whatever we wish to call the “Source of All” or “the ground of being”)
In the first option, we ARE buddha-nature, like a drop of water in the ocean, and we get confused when our senses tell us that we are separate…. and as our true nature begins to reveal itself through formal practice, we are simply re-awakening to the way things were in the first place……
In the second option, we are “something other than” buddha-nature. In this second option, the separateness is REAL. And, in my mind, there is no way to make the separateness REALLY disappear, i.e. like by being redeemed or something (a pot cannot be redeemed to become a son of the potter). So, unless we are afraid of a nasty God who looks for excuses to throw us into eternal hellfire, the only reason why we might want to continue this search, and come to live with a sense of “well-being” is because WE choose to.
i am of the sense that everything is interconnected, and that our
awareness… and our bodies, arise from a Primal Source……..
So, back to the Buddhist approach to metta article from your group.
This teaching raises the question of “What can we expect to rise up naturally from our practice, and what can we expect that needs to be “learned”….. it is almost like the nature/nurture question of psychology.
This is the sense i have come to, regarding whether or not metta
is a natural outgrowth of our true nature………………Gerry